Future Imperfect: Why Infinite Warfare Isn’t For Me

I won’t be buying a copy of Infinite Warfare when it launches next month, on November 4th. For the past few years I have become more and more alienated from a franchise that had once opened my eyes to the magical realm of online multiplayer. For that I’ll always be thankful, but try as I might, I simply can’t get behind Call of Duty and its current trajectory.

Compared to Modern Warfare, Black Ops, and even Ghosts, more recent games in the series have built themselves around a frenetic, highly customisable format. We now have wall-running, jetpacks, exoskeletons, and a loadout screen that look more and more like a character select menu. For some fans, these new systems signal landmark changes for an admittedly ageing formula, and the series still sells millions and millions of copies each year. For many of the old guard such as myself, however, the change in pace has been hard to get used to as we veer further into a sci-fi inspired future.

If you’ve played Black Ops III or Advanced Warfare, not much will surprise you in this year’s sequel. Mobility is still a massive focus with double jumps, wall runs, and powerslides allowing players to navigate each map in double time. While hunting for enemies it triggers a frantic juggling act of sorts, as players hurtle about, looking for anything that moves. There’s a real finesse to simultaneously managing the terrain around you and popping off shots, hoping they find they intended target, and it can certainly feel fluid and liberating at times, though missing a ledge grab or accidentally prolonging a wall run often results in frustration as fingers fumble at the gamepad.

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What made last year’s Call of Duty so intriguing was its use of named characters. Each of them had a personality to match their unique combat skills. Where Prophet would tease his foes by turning back the clock, Ruin could fall from the sky to unleash havoc on his foes. The introduction of Specialists gave Black Ops III an edge – one that had clearly taken cues from the burgeoning subgenre now ruled by Overwatch and Paladins.

Infinite Warfare takes the same approach though with a little more subtlety. Its “Rigs” effectively play on the same concept, but encourage players to experiment more in terms of loadout and visual customisation. Each one has its own selection of Payloads – powerful abilities that can be likened to a special power of sorts. For instance, the Warfighter can whip out a advanced spread shot rifle, perfect for rounding corners, while the heavier Merc rig can whip out a shield during their Bull Charge, mowing down anyone that strays too close.

On top of the well-established killstreaks, they add yet another hazard that players need to constantly be aware of. Getting picked off by the occasional airstrike is fair enough, but also having to worry about getting turned to dust by the FTL’s Eraser pistol just moments after your respawn saps some more of the fun. So does the constant need to question your loadout. The more complicated it gets, the more I’ve convinced myself that some combinations give an inarguable advantage over others.

After putting a fair amount of time into the beta, I’m left feeling kind of sorry for Infinity Ward. Their last entry, Call of Duty: Ghosts was a tragic cut-off point for the series – a deflating last hurrah for the shooter’s previous template. Now, with Sledgehammer and Treyarch having capitalised on its recent change in direction, Infinity Ward have been left without much new or exciting to bring to the table. The movement remains unchanged since Black Ops III, which could now become the series’ status quo, while the loadout system actually feels like a step back in some ways, burdening players with too many choices.

Living alongside this, we have Modern Warfare Remastered for the generation of gamer that matured with earlier games in the series, and I hope that Activision decide to sell it separately some time down the line. I does worry me, however, that this was needed to recapture that Call of Duty magic instead of making innovative well-rounded changes to the series’ divisive new formula.

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Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.

27 Comments

  1. I played quite a bit of the beta, absolutely hated it. Each game went something like this – spawn, die, spawn, die, spawn, die etc. Instant death immediately after spawning is not my idea of fun at all.

    • Not played CoD MP before then?! ;)

  2. @Tony that is why I stopped playing CoD cannot remember my last CoD game to be honest but hated the MP system spawn, die and repeat. Could barely get the 3 kill streak.
    Battlefield 1 for me

    • Thing is I don’t really think I could’ve done much differently to do better. Most of the time there wasn’t even an opportunity to get a shot off. I think maybe I came across some ridiculous professionals?
      One game of domination a guy on the other team went 99-20, no joke, 99 kills in a game. I think I was 4-20 or something in that match.
      Anyway it was enough to put me off CoD for the foreseeable future.
      I would like to play Modern Warfare Remastered but I’ll be damned if I’m buying Infinite Shite just so I can play that.

      • A lot does depend on your connection and who the host is. I did some optimisation of my home network and noticed a definite improvement, started winning fights rather than dying even though I’m certain I saw them first etc. In Blops3 if my ping is in the 16-33 range (it usually is now, and open nat) I generally do pretty well – which by my standards is a positive k/d. If it starts bouncing up to 50+ then I do noticeably worse…

  3. Jim, I echo your first paragraph completely. I entered the series on PS2 with Big Red One, had CoD3 arrive with my PS3 at it’s launch in February 2007, and have long been a fan. However, Black Ops signalled the start of a spiralling downfall for me. Whilst it wasn’t futuristic like the recent CoDs, the MP clearly started to lean towards a solo culture of performing ridiculous kills – throwing weapons, 360-no-scopes. I blame theatre mode and YouTube. Also the lag and hit detection was terrible. Even MW2 (my favourite) was guilty of introducing the awful “pay back” animation – where cash would fall out of enemies you returned a kill too. WTF.

    And now, the neon camos and such you get look stupid. It’s actually hard to believe it was once a franchise that attempted to make a realistic military shooter.

    • Just to add to my rant – something else with Black Ops that was a noticeable change was the pace of the MP. The faster CoD got, the less tactical it became, which just made it boring. When no one is working collectively towards an objective and you have an infinite number of respawns – there’s no reward and equally no penalty for failure! So what’s the point?

      • Glad to hear I’m not the only one.

        One thing I didn’t mention in this blog was the objective-based modes. TDM was tolerable but other modes such as Domination were a complete mess due to the speed of players and poxy number of shots it takes to bring someone down.

        It’s a real shame but that’s the way things are now. Thankfully, there’s a truck load of alternatives to play. Overwatch is personally my go-to at the moment. The core of that game is flawless and it only keeps getting bigger and more refined as the months roll on by.

    • That first paragraph could’ve been written by me, though not so succinctly perhaps. Proper “nail on the head” moment.

  4. £70 to get the COD4 Remaster… no thanks. Hoping that comes out stand alone sometime next year. I have no interest in sliding and running up walls.

    • I’ve no doubt it will be released a standalone product in time.

      The well of money from people buying the Legacy Edition will quickly dry up. Activision isn’t one to say “fair enough” without trying to squeeze another potential pool of customers somewhere down the line.

      Could be just after the new year this happens. I’d say around March time.

  5. Agree but,

    They can’t keep going further into the future (surely not anyway).

    The growing resentment to this direction over the last couple of years especially will have been noticed by Acti and the devs. Fortunately they work in 3 year cycles now so we won’t suddenly get a change of direction. However COD4 remaster seems to me like an acknowledgement of this fan feeling.

    The single player campaigns are decent!

    • Yup, love those campaigns. Even the one in Ghosts had some redeeming qualities.

      I’ll definitely pinch a copy off someone I know just to breeze through the singleplayer.

  6. I’ll be buying it, but like the others I know, it’s not for Infinite Warfare :)

  7. This article resonates with me entirely but that first paragraph echoes my feelings absolutely perfectly.
    I bought my PS3 purely for COD4 off the back of the glowing reviews of my friends and work colleagues and ended up playing almost nothing else for the following 12 months. Now looking at COD of today it’s hard to believe these games belong to the same series… wall running, jet packs, exo suits, and people spinning in circles equipped with a sniper rifle. WTF?

    I sincerely hope BF1 outsells COD by a comfortable margin this year, if just to send a message to Acti\IW\Treyarch\Sledgehammer\Raven\whoever else I’ve forgotten… but then they went ahead and packaged it with COD4 to try and prevent that didn’t they. Worse still, people are buying into it! :-(

    I’ll definitely give BF1 a crack this year having never really played BF before, but I sincerely hope they release COD4 separately down the line and maybe bring the franchise back to what made it so bloody good, so bloody addictive in the first place.

    • I bet there are plenty in the same boat as us. COD4 came at just the perfect time and was a gateway into multiplayer for ten of thousands of people.

      For that reason, it’s easy to get wound up about how much the series has changed.

      It’s hard to let go, but with so many other excellent shooters doing the rounds on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, it wont be long until disenfranchised fans find their fix elsewhere.

    • I agree Lyts.

      BF looks great but to be honest I’ve just gone off MP a lot since to be really good you have to be dedicated, and these days I like to switch between games more. Therefore I don’t get the same enjoyment from MP First Person Shooters.

      I’m just about to log into GAME and cancel my Legacy Edition pre-order. There is absolutely no way they went to the effort or remastering CoD4 just to limit it to the sales of the Legacy and Legacy Pro Editions. Also, if I wait for the digital release, I won’t need to insert the Infinite Warfare disc to play it (which I think is the case)!

      The first picture in this article explains my exact feelings in a visual form:

      http://9gag.com/gag/aDoO3Vd/are-you-for-old-cod-series-like-cod4-mw2-mw3-or-new-one

      • Same here really Youles. I get so little time to play games nowadays that I like to make the most of it and try and progress in a story instead…
        But on the other hand it could just be that since MW and MW2 there hasn’t been a MP game that’s really got its hooks in me. Maybe with the slight exception of The Last of Us anyway :-) if I’ve enjoyed a game I’ll always give the MP a go in the hope something will grab me but I just don’t feel the same pull as I did 10 years ago.
        The only problem with not having a good MP game to get addicted to is the amount of money I’m spending on good SP games lol.
        Activision aren’t stupid and they certainly aren’t adverse to making money so I’ve no doubt MWR will get a separate release one day. Soon-ish I hope! I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been tempted to buy Infinite Warfare purely to get my hands on MWR but so far I’ve managed to resist :-)

        That picture is perfect. Spot on! :-D

      • Yeah, it could be that no MP has been as good. I liked the simplicity of the MW2 unlock/progression system – there were just emblems etc to work towards, and upgrading the perks – which was really satisfying if done as you’d often have something that others didn’t. Things like Cold Blooded Pro and Sit-Rep Pro took a while to get so were rare, but worth the grind!

        I cancelled by Legacy Pro edition this morning. For once I’d rather go digital if I did buy the Legacy edition for MWR so I didn’t have to put in the IW disc to play it. Hoping there might even be a physical release of MWR too!!

  8. I got the super duper edition for the princely sum of nowt as I won £100 on a scratch card Woop Woop :) so whether I play it a lot or not doesn’t really matter,the Modern Warfare Remaster upgrade is fantastic though virtually a remake not just spruced up enjoyed playing through campaign again,also picking up Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 so covered for shooters either way :D.

    • On the subject of Infinite Warfare got my arse handed to me quite a bit in the beta i did enjoy black ops 3 so if I can get used to this you never know,the campaign looks like it could be decent from what I’ve seen.

  9. For about 4 or 5 CoD games now I have barely got to the first two killstreaks I always laugh at how impossible it must be to get the top one. Run,die,run,die,run,die,run,aim,die,run,run,run,die,die,die,run,shoot,aim,shoot,die.

  10. I just saw an advert for it on the tv and the campagin looks very generic. The fact that I am applying generic to the future sci-fi genre is not a good sign. I mean, last year, they kinda went Deux Ex. This year? Killzone. It seems each year, they look at a game and go “Let’s do that.” I played COD1-4 on consoles. 4 bored the hell out me but I recall loving 1,2 and 3. IW, whilst it did have my attention due to the space combat, i suspect the Jon Snow as a villian but really, we all know it is Jon Snow and i doubt he can do a good job as a villian, story won’t be that good. It’s COD. everyone gets it for the MP nowadays.

    Spawndeaths always suck and well, I recall perferring BF3’s MP at the time due to vehicles, teamwork and no unfair stuff such as nukes.

    Wonder if they’ll do Bioshock at some point?

    What? If they keep covering the same genres, I’m going to start comparing them like everyone else does.

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